Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: At least 12 people infected after attending Soundsplash Festival near Hamilton

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Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: At least 12 people infected after attending Soundsplash Festival near Hamilton

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Three more Auckland locations of interest have been announced by the Ministry of Health – all linked to suspected Omicron cases.

They are:

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• Krispy Kreme Manukau (drive-through): Sun, Jan 23, 2.30pm-2.45pm
• Private event at the Mahatma Gandhi Centre, Eden Terrace: Sat, Jan 22, 4pm-11pm
• Gucci Auckland: Sun, Jan 23, 1.44pm-2pm

Meanwhile a dozen concertgoers who attended the Soundsplash music festival in Waikato last weekend have now tested positive for Covid, an infected teenager claims.

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Experts now fear the popular music festival which saw 8506 people gather on the outskirts of Hamilton from Friday to Sunday has the makings of a super-spreader event and even accelerated the spread of Omicron across New Zealand.

Yesterday the Ministry of Health confirmed one of five infected Aucklanders who attended the festival had tested positive for the highly contagious Omicron variant, and the three-day event at Mystery Creek was now an exposure site.

So far just 68 people have been identified as close contacts, but that number is expected to increase.

This morning a teenager named Emma said out of 30 in her group of friends who attended, 12 have tested positive for Covid.

“I got tested just as like a precaution and then when mine came back positive, I told everyone to get tested,” she told RNZ.

“Then everyone got tested and slowly the results have been coming back and it’s been one out of every three has been positive.”

Emma said some of her friends who tested positive will be going to have a second test.

It is not yet known what variant she and the remaining people who have tested positive have got.

Emma acknowledged that strict safety Covid measures were followed at the festival.

However, she said members of the public did not appear to “bother” scanning the Covid Tracer app codes located around the site.

“It was pretty strict. My vaccine passes were scanned, we had to be fully vaccinated. All the staff were wearing masks.”

Auckland Grammar headmaster Tim O’Connor said the school year had been back for just three days when he made the decision for 120 students who attended the Soundsplash festival to leave class and get a test as a safeguard.

He told Newstalk ZB’s Tim Dower those who had been at the festival were asked to leave the central Auckland campus, get tested and produce a negative result before coming back to class.

“It was pretty likely that it was going to become a location of interest but we couldn’t afford to wait until 10.30am when it was announced by the ministry on their website,” said O’Connor.

He said they couldn’t afford to have 120 boys in class across the school and risk just one being positive and potentially forcing the campus to close just as it had started term one.

Even though the ministry said they should self-monitor for the next 10 days, as a precautionary measure the school asked for pupils to return to class after a negative result, he said.

It was important for schools to act swiftly and be conservative in their approach regarding Covid, said O’Connor. And it was far more preferable for students to be absent for two days awaiting test results rather than losing large groups of students off school for weeks.

Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: At least 12 people infected after attending Soundsplash Festival near Hamilton

Festivalgoers at the Mystery Creek event which experts fear may turn into an Omicron super-spreader. Photo / Supplied

O’Connor said he was not advised by the Ministry of Health over the situation which affected so many students at his school.

It comes as experts warn the festival has the makings of a “super-spreader” event and depending where festivalgoers hail from, may have even accelerated the take-off of the Omicron variant in New Zealand.

University of Canterbury Associate Professor Arindam Basu said people gathered at the festival would have been yelling and vocalising – activities that would release a lot of virus into the environment.

“Festivals, particularly music festivals and others, are places where we kind of term them as super-spreading or hyper-spreading events,” Basu told Newstalk ZB.

“This, in all likelihood, is one such thing.”

University of Otago Professor Michael Baker said there was potential for the Waikato music festival to be a “super-spreader” event but it came down to how many infected people attended the festival and how many other people they infected.

“Omicron, given than it is very infectious, it might be you only need one infectious person there who can infect scores of other people, depending on what they were doing.

“This event may have greatly accelerated the take-off of Omicron in New Zealand if those people went off around the country.”

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) has projected an Omicron outbreak in New Zealand could last about three months and peak at 80,000 daily infections.

Earlier this week, Health Minister Andrew Little said he was confident the health system could cope, despite predictions daily cases could reach 5000 to 50,000.

Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: At least 12 people infected after attending Soundsplash Festival near Hamilton

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